“ Synapse Plasticity is the Basis of Learning and Memory”
Synapses are the connections between nerve cells (neurons). Nerve signals are transmitted through synapses. Learning and memory concern how these connections are made, broken, strengthened or weakened. Proteins known as receptors are delivered to the synapses or removed from them to strengthen or weaken the connection.
In the new study, Maricq and colleagues identified a “Wnt signaling pathway” — a series of genes and the proteins they produce — that controls the strength of nerve signal transmission from one neuron through a synapse to the next neuron. This allows “plasticity” of synapses — a key factor in learning, retaining memories and forgetting.
“The adult nervous system is not a stagnant tissue, but rather dynamic and plastic, with the strength of synapses — specialized neuron-to-neuron connections — changing with experience, learning and memory,” Maricq says. “It’s not a fixed thing, like when you’re done making the heart, you’re done.
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